Topics can also be suggested and then researched to fit your residents interests. Here are just some of the topics that are popular.
(All lectures include Multi-Media)
New Jersey Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives
New Jersey may be known as the Diner Capital of the World, but it’s also famous for an all-star lineup of mouthwatering signature dishes. In this lecture we travel to some of the best iconic diners, drive-in's and dives in New Jersey. This is such a fun lecture and will get you and your residents remembering their favorite restaurants and unique New Jersey food. We will look at some of those crazy joints and goodies that have put New Jersey on the map of Flavor Town U.S.A.! This lecture will get your appetite churning for a hot dog, some pizza, and of course our famous Jersey pork roll. Or is it, Taylor Ham?
The History of Radio City Music Hall (Lecture and Music)
Nicknamed the Showplace of the Nation, it was for a time the leading tourist destination in the city. This lecture focuses on the unseen areas of this amazing theater, looking at the famous Wurlitzer organs, the hydraulic stages, and the art deco architecture. The venue is notable as the headquarters for the precision dance company, the Rockettes. We also view footage of the famous Christmas Spectacular and Rockettes.
Weird America & Weird New Jersey
A good old virtual road trip across America and a good excuse to get off the beaten path to get a little taste of weird America. In addition to wide-open prairie, twisting coastal highways, and sun kissed mountain ranges, the United States has its fair share of oddities really, really odd oddities, as it turns out. New Jersey has the Jersey Devil and much more! "Enough with the head-severing mobsters of Jersey. The state is packed with far more evil and oddities than TV could ever invent. -Rolling Stone Magazine
The environment plays an important role in the existence of life on the planet earth. The word Environment is derived from the French word “Environ” which meaning “surrounding.” An ecosystem refers to all the living and the non-living things present in the environment and it is a foundation of the Biosphere, which determines the health of the entire planet earth. Ecology and Environmental science are the branches of life science, which mainly deal with the study of organisms and their interactions among organisms and their environment.
The Miraculous Betty White
Why do we love Betty so much? “We loved Betty White,” first lady Jill Biden said as she and President Joe Biden left a restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware. Added the president: “Ninety-nine years old. As my mother would say, ‘God love her.’”
“She was great at defying expectation,” Ryan Reynolds, who starred alongside her in the comedy “The Proposal,” tweeted. “She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty.” White launched her TV career in daytime talk shows when the medium was still in its infancy and endured well into the age of cable and streaming. Her combination of sweetness and edginess gave life to a roster of quirky characters in shows from the sitcom “Life With Elizabeth” in the early 1950s to oddball Rose Nylund in “The Golden Girls” in the ’80s to “Boston Legal,” which ran from 2004 to 2008.
The United States Presidents
A brief look at the history of the U.S executive branch, and a trip to Disney Worlds Hall of Presidents. As the head of the government of the United States, the president is arguably the most powerful government official in the world. The executive branch of our Government is in charge of making sure that the laws of the United States are obeyed. The President of the United States is the head of the executive branch. The President gets help from the Vice President, department heads (called Cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies.
An Introduction to American Literature
Like other national literatures, American literature was shaped by the history of the country that produced it. American literature is literature predominantly written or produced in English in the United States of America and its preceding colonies. Before the founding of the United States, the Thirteen Colonies on the eastern coast of the present-day United States were heavily influenced by British literature. The American literary tradition thus is part of the broader tradition of English-language literature. A small amount of literature exists in other immigrant languages. Furthermore a rich tradition of oral storytelling exists amongst Native American tribes.
A Tribute to "The Greatest Generation"
The Greatest Generation, also known as the G.I. Generation and the World War II generation. The generation is generally defined as people born from 1901 to 1927. They were shaped by the Great Depression and were the primary participants in World War II. In the United States, members of this generation came of age, were children, or were born during the Progressive Era, World War I, and the Roaring Twenties; a time of economic prosperity with distinctive cultural transformations. They experienced much of their youth with rapid technological innovation (e.g., radio, telephone, automobile) amidst growing levels of worldwide income inequality and a soaring economy. After the Stock Market crashed, this generation experienced profound economic and social turmoil. Despite the hardships, historians note that literature, arts, music, and cinema of the period flourished. This generation also experienced what is commonly referred to as the "Golden Age of Hollywood", and the Big Band phenomenon.
Healing Through Art
Healing through art is a study of art therapy. Art therapy, a hybrid field largely influenced by the disciplines of art and psychology, uses the creative process, pieces of art created in therapy, and third-party artwork to help people in treatment develop self-awareness, explore emotions, address unresolved emotional conflicts, improve social skills, and raise self-esteem. Art therapy primarily aims to help individuals experiencing emotional and psychological challenges achieve personal well-being and improved levels of function.
The Human Brain
Let's learn about the anatomy of the 3 pound human brain and how it works! The human brain is the command center for the human nervous system. It receives signals from the body's sensory organs and outputs information to the muscles. The human brain has the same basic structure as other mammal brains but is larger in relation to body size than the brains of many other mammals, such as dolphins, whales and elephants. The brain sends and receives chemical and electrical signals throughout the body. Different signals control different processes, and your brain interprets each. Some make you feel tired, for example, while others make you feel pain.
New Jersey Gardens and Arboretums
Do you know why New Jersey is called “The Garden State?” It’s because New Jersey is home to many gorgeous nature centers, public gardens, and arboretums. Whether you’re looking for unique gardening ideas or just a quiet stroll among the flowers, these public gardens are a great (not to mention gorgeous) way to spend an afternoon. We also visit the beautiful Grounds for Sculpture.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice: Ginsburg was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her older sister died when she was a baby, and her mother died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school. She earned her bachelor's degree at Cornell University and married Martin D. Ginsburg, becoming a mother before starting law school at Harvard, where she was one of the few women in her class. Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School, where she graduated joint first in her class. During the early 1960s she worked with the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, learned Swedish and co-authored a book with Swedish jurist Anders Bruzelius; her work in Sweden profoundly influenced her thinking on gender equality. She then became a professor at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School, teaching civil procedure as one of the few women in her field. After being appointed to the Supreme, she successfully fought against gender discrimination and unified the liberal block of the court.
What is Body Language?
Body language refers to the nonverbal signals that we use to communicate. According to experts, these nonverbal signals make up a huge part of daily communication. From our facial expressions to our body movements, the things we don't say can still convey volumes of information. It has been suggested that body language may account for between 60 to 65% of all communication.
Understanding body language is important, but it is also essential to pay attention to other cues such as context. In many cases, you should look at signals as a group rather than focusing on a single action.
The History of the Electric Car
There are many benefits to driving an electric vehicle but the economic benefits are usually the most important to a consumer. Driving an electric vehicle reduces dependence on the volatile gas prices. There is also lower fueling costs when using electricity as your fuel source. Many utilities now offer special rates for electric vehicle owners providing a discounted cost to electric vehicle customers when they charge their vehicle during off peak hours. Additionally, there is an overall lower maintenance cost when owning an electric vehicle compared to a gasoline vehicle. For example, without a combustion engine, oil changes are no longer needed. These "clean" energy vehicles are good for the environment, and will create good paying jobs and economic growth.
The History of the United States Postal Service
On July 26, 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many aspects of today’s mail system. The innovations that followed included Rural Free Delivery (1896) and Parcel Post (1913), which brought rural residents into the mainstream. At a time when banks largely ignored the needs of average citizens, the Postal Savings System (1911) provided basic financial services. As World War I engulfed Europe, the Post Office recognized the value of air transport and almost alone supported the aviation industry until the late 1920s.
Hava Nagila; How a Song Defines a People (Lecture and Music)
The Song Hava Nagila is instantly recognizable; musical shorthand for anything Jewish, a happy party tune that you dance to at weddings, bar mitzvahs and even at Major League Baseball games. It conjures up wistful smiles, memories of generations past…and no shortage of eye rolling. The song is much more than a tale of Jewish kitsch and bad bar mitzvah fashions. It carries with it an entire constellation of history, values and hopes for the future. In its own believe-it-or-not way, Hava Nagila encapsulates the Jewish journey over the past 150 years. It also reveals the power of one song to express and sustain identity, to transmit lessons across generations and to bridge cultural divides and connect us all on a universal level. Includes performances by many artists!
Behind the Scenes of the Vatican Museum
This program looks at the history of the Vatican and the Vatican Museum.
The Vatican Museums attracts about 6 million people per year. With 43,000 square meters (460,000 square feet) the Vatican Museum is the 5th largest museum in the world. Not only the Vatican Museum, but the whole Vatican city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. Included in this program is some Armchair Travel to go behind the scenes of this incredible site!
Judy Garland (Lecture and Music)
Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress, singer, dancer, and vaudevillian. During a career that spanned 45 years, she attained international stardom as an actress in both musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on the concert stage. We look at Judy Garland's bio, and see Judy in action through a lot of her films, and concerts.
The 1950's - American Culture & Society
In the 1950's, young Americans had more disposable income and enjoyed greater material comfort than their forebears, which allowed them to devote more time and money to leisure activities and the consumption of popular culture. The 1950's are often remembered as a quiet decade, a decade of conformity, stability, and normalcy. Ahhh, the 1950's: The decade of the baby boomer. Exciting times indeed."
“Taking it to the Streets”; The Culture of the 1960’s; Civil Rights, and Vietnam
It was a decade of extremes, of transformation, change and bizarre contrasts: flower children and assassins, idealism and alienation, rebellion and backlash. For many in the massive post-World War II baby boom generation, it was both the best of times and the worst of times. The Sixties was dominated by the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Protests, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the first man landing on the moon. Whether it was due to experimentation with drugs or anger over the Vietnam War, the 1960s were an overwhelming decade. From The Beatles, to Woodstock to the Assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, these events shocked and changed the fabric of America forever.
“The Roaring Twenties”
The 1920s were an age of dramatic social and political change. For the first time, more Americans lived in cities than on farms. The nation’s total wealth more than doubled between 1920 and 1929, and this economic growth swept many Americans into an affluent but unfamiliar “consumer society.” People from coast to coast bought the same goods (thanks to nationwide advertising and the spread of chain stores), listened to the same music, did the same dances and even used the same slang! In the nation’s big cities, the 1920s were roaring indeed.
“Thanks for the Memories” - The History of the "Tonight Show"
It’s a field filled with big personalities, larger than life late night television comedians and conversationalists who put America to bed each night. From Jack Paar’s extemporaneous small talk to Steve Allen’s infectious laugh to Johnny Carson’s witty monologues, and all the big personalities that filled the guest chairs, America has had a love affair with late night television programming for years.
Princess Diana – The Queen of Hearts
From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in a car accident in 1997, the Princess was arguably the most famous woman in the world, the pre-eminent female celebrity of her generation: a fashion icon, an image of feminine beauty, admired and emulated for her high-profile involvement in AIDS issues, and the international campaign against landmines. During her lifetime, she was often referred to as the most photographed person in the world.
Western Expansion and the Gold Rush
The story of the United States has always been one of westward expansion, beginning along the East Coast and continuing, often by leaps and bounds, until it reached the Pacific, what Theodore Roosevelt described as "the great leap Westward." The discovery of gold nuggets in the Sacramento Valley in early 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, arguably one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century.
The Golden Age of Hollywood (Lecture and Film)
The Golden Age of Hollywood: 1915 - 1963
The Golden Age of Hollywood, sometimes referred to as the period of classical Hollywood cinema, started with the silent movie era and the first major feature length silent movie called the 'Birth of a Nation' (1915). The Golden Age of Hollywood ended with the demise of the studio system, the emergence of television, the rising costs and subsequent losses notably 'Cleopatra' (1963).
The Battle of AC DC; AKA “The War of the Currents”
One of the most interesting battles in American history was the “Battle of Currents”, or the battle of AC-DC. In the late 19th century, three brilliant inventors, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse, battled over which electricity system direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) would become standard. During their bitter dispute, Edison invented the electric chair, and put a convict to death just to show how dangerous AC really was.
The Great Composers and Their Music (Lecture and Music)
The Great Composers - a classical music lecture, will explore the history and lives of some of western classical music's most famous composers and musicians. Classical music is filled with some very colorful personalities and riddled with drama of all kinds ranging from political intrigue to failed romances and everything in between. Throughout this lecture, we will discuss composers and musicians from the distant past all the way to the present, beginning with the greatest, J.S. Bach.
Nutrition in a Nutshell
For years, people held to the idea that there are “bad” nutrients and “good” nutrients when, in fact, all nutrients play a certain role in the body. Even those nutrients once considered “bad” such as fats and carbohydrates perform vital functions in the body and if one consumes too many “good” nutrients such as vitamins or minerals there can be harmful results, as well. This lecture is about the stuff our bodies need in order to stay healthy!
The name Mark Twain is a pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Clemens was an American humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who acquired international fame for his travel narratives, especially The Innocents Abroad (1869), Roughing It (1872), and Life on the Mississippi (1883), and for his adventure stories of boyhood, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Twain would become a popular public figure and one of America’s best and most beloved writers.
Love in the Digital Age
A new report says most Americans think online dating is a good way to meet people. Almost 60 per cent of Internet users said there is nothing wrong with trying to find a partner on the Internet. This has changed from ten years ago when the figure was 44 per cent. The report is from the Pew Research Center. It says around one in ten Americans has used online dating services.
It also said 11 per cent of people who started a long-term relationship in the past decade met their partner online! What do you think about all of this?
"Get Your Kicks on Route 66"
U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year.The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s. In John Steinbeck's classic American novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), the road, "Highway 66", was turned into a powerful symbol of escape and loss. (Includes Armchair Travel)
The Art of Minimalism
Modern culture has bought into the lie that the good life is found in accumulating things—in possessing as much as possible. They believe that more is better and have inadvertently subscribed to the idea that happiness can be purchased at a department store. But they are wrong. Minimalism brings freedom from the all-consuming passion to possess. It steps off the treadmill of consumerism and dares to seek happiness elsewhere. It values relationships, experiences, and soul-care; and in doing so, it finds life. Also inspired by the new "Decluttering Queen" Marie Kondo, Minimalism, the art of simplicity, has make a big comeback! Art, Architecture, and Music has all been influenced by the idea that less is more.
The Songs of America (Lecture and Music)
A celebration of American history through the music that helped to shape a nation.
Through all the years of strife and triumph, America has been shaped not just by our elected leaders and our formal politics but also by our music—by the lyrics, performers, and instrumentals that have helped to carry us through the dark days and to celebrate the bright ones. “From hymns that swelled the hearts of revolutionaries to the spirituals that stirred citizens to spill blood for a more perfect Union and the blues- and country-infused beats that aroused change in the 1960s, this lecture connects us to music as an unsung force in our nation’s history. Songs of America is not just a cultural journey—it strikes our deepest chords as Americans: patriotism, protest, possibility, creativity, and, at the root of it all, freedom of expression enshrined in our founding document.”
The White House Situation Room
The Situation Room was created in 1961 on the order of President John F. Kennedy after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion was attributed to a lack of real-time information. The room has secure communications systems built into it and the walls contain wood panels that hide different audio, video and other systems. The Situation Room staff is organized around five Watch Teams that monitor domestic and international events. This lecture includes a simulation, and rare pictures of this famous room in action.
Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body or other legally constituted tribunal initiates charges against a public official for misconduct. Most commonly, an official is considered impeached after the house votes to accept the charges, and impeachment itself does not remove the official from office. We look at the history of impeachment including the U.S. presidents who were impeached
"The Sound of Music" (Lecture, Music, and Film)
When the Sound of Music was released in 1965 it took the world by storm, earning five Oscars.
For millions of people, the film is the rare combination of a powerful and moving story, first rate music, and breathtaking scenery of Salzburg!
The musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children and their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide to flee from Austria with the children. Of course this lecture features many scenes from the film, and some very special surprises, including a couple of "sing a longs". Included is return to the Salzburg with Julie Andrews, the star of The Sound of Music.
The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Code named Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later western Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front. This lecture features rare film footage of the invasion, and rare narratives of some of the witnesses who experienced this incredible day.
"The Rat Pack" (Lecture and Music)
Who hasn’t heard of the Rat Pack? Everybody knows who they were: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, best known for chasing women, filming “Oceans Eleven” in Las Vegas, and performing together in “the Summit at the Sands” while filming early in 1960. That honor went to the Hollywood power couple of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Sinatra joined them once he moved to Hollywood. Bacall gave the group its name, although exactly how it came about is less clear. This much is known: A night of carousing ended back at the home she shared with Bogart. She looked at her friends in various stages of inebriation and mood alteration and said, “You look like a pack of rats.” This lecture uses concert footage, and is very entertaining and nostalgic.
"And the Winner Is?" The History of the Oscar (Academy Awards)
The Academy Awards, more popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The award was originally sculpted by George Stanley from a design sketch by Cedric Gibbons. AMPAS first presented it in 1929 at a private dinner hosted by Douglas Fairbanks in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in what would become known as the 1st Academy Awards. The Academy Awards ceremony was first broadcast by radio in 1930 and was televised for the first time in 1953. It is the oldest worldwide entertainment awards ceremony and is now televised live worldwide.
The Most Influential African Americans in History
This lecture is about influential African Americans; a collection of dreamers and doers, noisy geniuses and quiet innovators, record-breakers and symbols of pride and aspiration. A dashing lawyer who redefined fearlessness and broke Jim Crow’s back. The most gravity-defying, emulated athlete the world has ever produced. A brilliant folklorist of fierce independence who was a proudly “outrageous woman", and many others.
Women Who Have Changed the World
From the White House and the silver screen, to Olympic podiums and equality marches, these women changed the world — blazing the trail while battling adversity. Without each one of their contributions, our world wouldn't be the what it is today. In honor of Women's History Month, we take a look at these fierce, empowering, and inspiring ladies. Throughout history, numerous women have pushed for societal change and influenced the lives of many, allowing women and girls globally to live a life that's free from stereotypes and patriarchal restraints and, most of all, encouraging girls to dream bigger.
Seasonal Favorites (A Combination of Lecture, Music, and Travel)
The Origins of Halloween and Witches
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
Take a trip with the greatest music hits and movie scenes from Halloween, such as the Monster Mash, and scenes from The Wizard of Oz, etc. We also travel to Transylvania, the home of Dracula, and vampires.
The History of the American Thanksgiving
Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. The modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is traced to a well-recorded 1619 event in Virginia and a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1619 arrival of 38 English settlers at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia, concluded with a religious celebration as dictated by the group's charter from the London Company, which required "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned … in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God." The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. The Pilgrims celebrated this with Native Americans, who had helped them get through the previous winter by giving them food in that time of scarcity. The treatment of and the peace shared with the Native Americans shortly changed for the worse.
Christmas and the Winter Solstice
Since prehistory, the winter solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day "midwinter" (winter solstice) holiday called Yule. Many modern Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath, the Yule log, and others, are direct descendants of Yule customs. Of course there is no better way than to celebrate the holidays then with music and scenes from holiday films. We also take a look behind the scenes of the Radio City Music Hall Holiday Spectacular! Scenes from the show includes the Rockettes, and of course the arrival of Santa Claus. We travel around the world seeking out the best Christmas markets. We also go to Rockefeller Center in New York City to see the spectacular Christmas tree all lit up and shining brightly!
Celebrating the Chinese New Year
What is the Chinese New Year and why is it celebrated? The New Year celebration is centered around removing the bad and the old, and welcoming the new and the good. Based on folklore, it's a time to worship ancestors, exorcise evil spirits and pray for a good harvest. The Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year, is an annual 15-day festival in China and Chinese communities around the world that begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. Festivities last until the following full moon.
Valentine was a Christian priest who lived in Ancient Rome. In 270 AD, the Emperor Claudius II forbade marriage because he wanted men to be able to concentrate on war and not on their loved one. Valentine carried on marrying couples, but only couples he thought were truly in love. Emperor Claudius found out and Valentine was executed on the 14th February 270 AD. As a result, he was martyred and made a saint.
Love songs, love songs, and more love songs! We also look at the greatest love scenes from the films we know best. Of course there are so many places we can travel together to fall in love with our world. Of course Italy and Paris come first to mind, but pick a place, and we will go!
The "Ides of March "
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March." The Ides of March is the 74th day in the Roman calendar, corresponding to 15 March. It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts. In 44 BC, it became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar, which made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history. Ides were ancient markers used to reference dates in relation to lunar phases. Ides simply referred to the first new moon of a given month, which usually fell between the 13th and 15th. In fact, the Ides of March once signified the new year, which meant celebrations and rejoicing.
A Trip to New Orleans, & the History of Mardi Gras. (Comes with all the Fixings)
New Orleans is world-renowned for its distinctive music, Creole cuisine, unique dialects, and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The French name Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, from the custom of using all the fats in the home before Lent in preparation for fasting and abstinence. We look at the history of New Orleans and this magical event, listen to traditional New Orleans jazz, and zydeco, and if scheduled right, go live to the parades on Fat Tuesday!
Saint Patrick's Day Celebration, and a Brief History of Ireland (Includes Song and Dance, and a lot of magic!)
According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted thousands.
Patrick's efforts were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove "snakes" out of Ireland, despite the fact that snakes were not known to inhabit the region.
Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland's foremost saint. Today's Saint Patrick's Day celebrations have been greatly influenced by those that developed among the Irish diaspora, especially in North America. Until the late 20th century, Saint Patrick's Day was often a bigger celebration among the diaspora than it was in Ireland.
The Kentucky Derby (Includes Lecture, Music, and Virtual Horse Racing)
There are few American sporting events with the history and popularity of the Kentucky Derby. It’s rich traditions – sipping a mint julep, donning a beautiful hat, and joining fellow race fans in singing “My Old Kentucky Home” – transcend the Kentucky Derby from just a sporting event, making it a celebration of southern culture and a true icon of Americana. The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875. The race is often referred to as "The Run for the Roses" and has continuously produced “the most exciting two minutes in sports”; uninterrupted, even when coinciding with profound historical events like The Great Depression and World Wars I & II.
More light lecture topics to come..
Topics can also be suggested and then researched to fit your residents interests. Here are just some of the topics that are academic, and popular.
(All lectures include Multi-Media)
Three dynastic cycles—the Zhou, the Qin, and the Han—covered many centuries of classical China. The dynastic patterns begun in classical Chinese history lasted until the early part of the twentieth century. A family of kings, called a “dynasty,” began ruling China with great vigor, developing solid political institutions, and encouraging active economies. Using art and music from the period, this lecture explores the history of the ancient Chinese.
Important reasons for India’s distinctive path lie in geography and early historical experience. India’s topography shaped several vital features of its civilization. The most important agricultural regions are along the two great rivers, the Ganges and the Indus. During its formative period, called the Vedic and Epic ages, the Aryans (Indo-Europeans), originally from central Asia, impressed their own stamp on Indian culture. During these ages, the caste system, Sanskrit, and various belief systems were introduced.
Mesopotamia and Egypt
In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians created an amazing culture in the Tigris-Euphrates region, and the Babylonians, developed Hammurabi’s code. It laid down the procedure for law courts and regulated property rights and duties of family members, setting harsh punishments for crimes. This focus on standardizing a legal system was one of the features of early river valley civilizations.
Egyptian civilization emerged in northern Africa along the Nile River by about 3000 B.C.E. It benefited from trade and influences from Mesopotamia, but it also produced its own distinct social structures and cultural expressions.
The Hebrews are descended from Abraham and historically occupied a kingdom (after Solomon, two kingdoms) in the area now called Israel. The two kingdoms after Solomon were called Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom). The term 'Jew' originally meant an inhabitant of Judah. The Jews have a 5,750 year history, tracing their origins to Biblical times. Evolving out of a common religion, the Jewish people developed customs, culture, and an ethical system which identified them as Jews regardless of their individual religious attitudes.
Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World
The rapid rise of civilization in Greece between 800 and 600 B.C.E. was based on the creation of strong city-states rather than a single political unit. Each city-state had its own government, typically either a tyranny of one ruler or an aristocratic council. Sparta and Athens came to be the two leading city-states. Greek art and culture merged with other Middle Eastern forms during a period called Hellenistic, the name derived because of the influence of the Hellenes, as the Greeks were known.
Ancient Roman Virtues and the Lessons of Rome
These are the qualities of life to which every Citizen (and, ideally, everyone else) should aspire. They are the heart of the Via Romana — the Roman Way — and are thought to be those qualities which gave the Roman Republic the moral strength to conquer and civilize the world. Emperors Diocletian and Constantine slowed the spiral of decay but only temporarily; Constantine eventually moved the capital to Constantinople and allowed Christianity to thrive.
Jesus Christ, Early Christianity, Byzantium and Orthodox Europe
Christianity played a major part in the formation of post classical civilizations in eastern and Western Europe. Its beginnings were in the early days of the Roman Empire. Jesus preached compassion with great conviction and charisma, but in his lifetime, he had relatively few followers. Over time, his message of the spiritual equality of all people and an afterlife of heavenly communion with God replaced the comparatively unsatisfying traditional polytheistic religion of the Romans. Later Christians, Paul most notably, saw themselves not as part of a reform movement within Judaism but rather as a new religion. The writings of Paul and other Christians became known as the New Testament in the Christian Bible. By the time Rome collapsed, Christianity had demonstrated immense spiritual power and solid organization.
The Rise and Spread of Islam
In the seventh century C.E. the Arab followers of Muhammad surged from the Arabian Peninsula to create the first global civilization. They quickly conquered an empire incorporating elements of the classical civilizations of Greece, Egypt, and Persia. Islamic merchants, mystics, and warriors continued its expansion in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The process provided links for exchange among civilized centers and forged a truly global civilization.
UNDERSTANDING HUMAN RIGHTS
Understanding Slavery; Past and Present
The Atlantic slave trade predominated in economic affairs after the middle of the seventeenth century. How does slavery work? From the “Bumba” to the Kapo”, this lecture identifies three major slavery systems: chattel slavery, debt bondage, and contract slavery. A chattel slave is a slave because he is born into a family that has been enslaved for centuries. Slavery is illegal throughout the world, yet more than twenty seven million people are still trapped in one of history's oldest social institutions.
The Irish Famine
In the early 19th century, Ireland’s tenant farmers as a class, especially in the west of Ireland, struggled both to provide for themselves and to supply the British market with cereal crops. The potato, which had become a staple crop in Ireland by the 18th century, was appealing in that it was a hardy, nutritious, and calorie dense crop and relatively easy to grow in the Irish soil. By the early 1840's almost half the Irish population but primarily the rural poor had come to depend almost exclusively on the potato for their diet. In 1845 a strain of Phytophthora (blight) arrived accidentally from North America. Much of that year’s potato crop rotted in the fields. The impoverished Irish peasantry, lacking the money to purchase the foods their farms produced, continued throughout the famine to export grain, meat, and other high-quality foods to Britain as debt payments.
The Armenian Genocide; the Untold Story of WWI
The Armenian Genocide lasted from 1915 to 1916 and was the first of much genocide to occur in the 20th Century. Approximately 600,000 to 1.5 million people lost their lives to this genocide. Turkey’s Young Turk government was headed by Jemal Pasa, Enver Pasa, and Talat Pasa. The xenophobic Pasas’ goal was to leave the multinational Ottoman Empire and create a pure Turkish state. Which later became Adolf Hitler’s lesson plan, the Pasas used this cover of war to exterminate the Armenians without interference.
Hostility toward Jews dates to ancient times. From the days of the Bible until the Roman Empire, Jews were criticized and sometimes punished for their efforts to remain a separate social and religious group. They were also hated because of their refusal to adopt the values and the way of life of the non-Jewish societies where they lived. The rise of Christianity greatly increased hatred of Jews. They became seen as outsiders and as a people who rejected Jesus. The Roman authorities ordered and carried out the crucifixion, but the Jews were later scapegoated after Rome became Christian. By the high middle ages (11th-14th centuries), Jews were widely persecuted as barely human "Christ-killers" and "Devils."
Nazi Propaganda-Degenerative Art
When Hitler took control of Germany, in 1933, it was home to some of the most sophisticated modernist painters in the world. The Nazis despised them. “Any aberration in color, in proportion, shape, size, anything like that was anathema,” The view extended even to music; the Nazis loathed jazz, for its supposed lack of melody and its emphasis on improvisation. “The Nazis insinuated that modernism was Jewish, that it was the product of a deranged mind,”
The Holocaust (also called Ha-Shoah in Hebrew) refers to the period from January 30, 1933, when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, to May 8, 1945, when the war in Europe officially ended. During this time, Jews in Europe were subjected to progressively harsher persecution that ultimately led to the murder of 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jewry and one third of all world Jewry. Jews were the victims of Germany's deliberate and systematic attempt to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe, a plan Hitler called the “Final Solution.” Thinking about the use of discrimination, segregation, expropriation, deportation, isolation, and finally extermination, the vastness of this study is too large for one lecture. But with selected detail of some of the unknown facts of the Holocaust, the lessons come to life and are clearly understood.
“White Light, Black Rain”, Duck and Cover; The Atomic Age and Beyond
Through the powerful recollections of the survivors of the atomic bombs that leveled two Japanese cities in 1945, this lecture presents a deeply moving look at the painful legacy of the first and hopefully last uses of thermonuclear weapons in war. This lecture highlights some of the training films and public service announcements produced from the late 1940's through the 1950's by the United States military and government. The American public was provided information, or misinformation, on the effects of nuclear fallout and how best to protect oneself. There is a disturbing collection of 1940's and 1950's United States government issued propaganda, and films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety.
The Murder of Emmitt Till (The Beginning of the Civil Rights Movement)
In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all white, all male jury. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement.
“We Shall Remain” The Cultural Genocide of Our Native Americans
This lecture examines the broad political and economic forces that led to the emergence of AIM (The American Indian Movement) in the late 1960's. It also highlights the desperate conditions of Indian reservation life and the assimilation, and urbanization programs implemented by the federal government. The explicit goal of off reservation boarding schools, is articulated in the infamous words of Carlisle Indian School founder Richard Henry Pratt - “to kill the Indian and save the man”.
Is "Race" an illusion? Eugenics and Social Darwinism
Using cultural examples, this lecture highlights the idea that “Race” is just an illusion. What is the purpose of racial segregation according to some of the racist groups you are familiar with, i.e. the KKK or Neo-Nazis? The term "survival of the fittest", coined by the English sociologist Herbert Spencer, was a vulgarization of a more complex theory: his compatriot Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. The assumption of Social Darwinism is that some societies, races, etc., are endowed with superior genes, (the science of Eugenics), while others inherit inferior genes. These of course were the lesson plans incorporated by men like Stalin, and of course Hitler years later.
More historical lecture topics to come...
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